Opinion
Education Opinion

These People are Going to Shape Education for the Next Generation

By Sara Mead — May 01, 2012 5 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Last year, I published a list of 16 young men and women who are going to lead the transformation of education in this country in the coming generation. But the challenges--and opportunities--facing public education in the next few decades are so big, they’re going to require more talent and expertise than even those exceptional 16 folks can offer. So, this year I’m back with a list of 17 more leaders who are going to help define the shape of public education for the coming generation:


  • Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj, Assistant Professor, Seton Hall University
  • Catharine Bellinger and Alexis Morin, Students for Education Reform
  • Matthew Chingos, Fellow, Brown Center on Education Policy, Brookings Institution
  • Genevieve DeBose, Teaching Ambassador Fellow, U.S. Department of Education
  • Nick Ehrmann, CEO and Founder, Blue Engine
  • Cory Koedel, Assistant Professor, University of Missouri
  • Thaly Germain, Director, Lynch Leadership Academy
  • Toni Maraviglia, Founder, MPrep
  • Ben Marcovitz, Founder and Principal, Sci Academy and CEO, Collegiate Academies
  • Ben Miller, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development
  • Ama Nyamekye, Executive Director, Educators for Excellence Los Angeles
  • Sophia Pappas, Executive Director, Office of Early Childhood Education, New York City Department of Education
  • Terence Patterson, Education Program Officer, the Hyde Foundation
  • Teddy Rice, President and Co-Founder, Ellevation
  • Reid Saaris, Founder and Executive Director, Equal Opportunity Schools
  • Daniel Yoo, Founder, Goalbook

As with last year, I built this list by asking for recommendations from people I respect in the education field, including my Bellwether education colleagues, leaders of education reform and policy organizations, writers and analysts, and, most importantly, last year’s list of Next Generation Leaders. I’m also particularly excited that this list includes a former intern of mine, Catharine Bellinger, and a former New America Foundation colleague, Ben Miller--both of whom I’d still think are awesome even if I hadn’t had the chance to work with them closely, although that experience certainly helped me appreciate just how phenomenal they both are. The criteria for this year’s list are roughly the same as last year: These are folks who are doing important work in education now and are likely to have a significant impact on education policy or practice in the next 10 years. But this year I increased the age cut-off by a year, because I got some terrific nominees last year who fell just over the threshold and wanted to be able to include them this year (and because, let’s face it, we’re all getting older).

A few broad themes emerge from this year’s list. As I noted last year, the individuals who constitute this new generation of education leadership came of age at a time when many of the ideas their predecessors fought for--the ability of schools to impact children’s lives and achievement, the value of choice and diverse provision, and the ability of organizations outside traditional districts and schools to make a valuable contribution to improving student outcomes--had already migrated from the margins to the mainstream of public discourse in education. As a result, they haven’t felt the need to litigate these issues in the same way their predecessors did, and are also more willing to question assumptions on either side of the ideological divide in our contemporary education debates, and to recognize previously under-addressed nuances and complexities.

Related to this, many of these leaders are focusing on new challenges and opportunities--or new angles on existing ones--that reflect the evolution of the education reform movement. Education reform and entrepreneurship in the 1990s and 2000s tended to focus on “closing the achievement gap” in student test scores for low-income and minority students. That’s still a major focus for Next Generation leaders, but many of these leaders are realizing that it’s far from enough, and are pursuing on next steps to raise the bar or extend the quest for educational equity to encompass additional groups of previously overlooked students. Education entrepreneurs like Blue Engine founder Nick Ehrmann and Equal Opportunity Schools founder Reid Saaris, for example, have raised their sights from improving achievement on state tests to ensuring that low-income and at-risk students graduate high school truly “college and career-ready,” and emphasis that reflects a broader shift currently underway across the education reform movement. At the same time, people like Ellevation co-founder Teddy Rice and Goalbook founder Daniel Yoo are extending their focus beyond “gap closing” writ large to help realize the potential of populations of students--English language learners and students with disabilities--who have historically been particularly ill-served by our public education system, but are largely ignored or marginalized in reform conversations focused on “gap closing.”

But even as Next Generation leaders appear more free from some of the ideological debates that preoccupied their predecessors, they also seem particularly attuned to the reality that creating sustained improvement in our nation’s public schools will require building a broader base of support that brings new voices to the table. That’s why leaders like Ama Nyamekye and Genevieve DeBose are working to bring teacher voice to education policy debates, and Catharine Bellinger and Alexis Morin are engaging student voices. These Next Generation leaders also recognize that maximizing the potential of all our citizens will require reforms beyond the K-12 public school system, and are working to improve early childhood education (Sophia Pappas) and address issues in higher education (Ben Miller, Matthew Chingos, and Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj).

Finally, the impact and vision of these Next Generation Leaders extends beyond the United States, with leaders like Toni Maraviglia working to use technology to expand access to quality learning opportunities in some of the poorest parts of the world.

Over the next three weeks, I’ll be profiling each of these leaders in greater detail. I’ve greatly enjoyed getting to know these 17 folks over the past month or so. I’m perpetually impressed by their insights, dedication, vision, and accomplishments--and I know you will be, too.

The opinions expressed in Sara Mead’s Policy Notebook are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP
Education Massachusetts National Guard to Help With Busing Students to School
250 guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans, as districts nationwide struggle to hire enough drivers.
1 min read
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, activated the state's National Guard to help with busing students to school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Education FDA: ‘Very, Very Hopeful’ COVID Shots Will Be Ready for Younger Kids This Year
Dr. Peter Marks said he is hopeful that COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner.
4 min read
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021. On Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, Marks urged parents to be patient, saying the agency will rapidly evaluate vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds as soon as it gets the needed data.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021.
Jim Lo Scalzo/AP